An Alaska man who brutally attacked three registered sex offenders — telling one he was an “avenging angel” — says his experience should serve as a deterrent to anyone considering vigilante justice.
Jason Vukovich, 42, of Anchorage, is facing up to 25 years in prison after agreeing to plead guilty to first-degree attempted assault and a consolidated count of first-degree robbery in connection to the 2016 attacks. In exchange, prosecutors will drop more than a dozen charges, according to court records obtained by the Anchorage Daily News.
In a five-page letter sent to the newspaper in November, Vukovich said he was backing away from the earlier punishment he proposed for the 2016 assaults — that his sentence be no longer than the combined prison terms of his three victims plus the sentence given to the man who Vukovich said molested him as a child.
“If you have already lost your youth, like me, due to a child abuser, please do not throw away your present and your future by committing acts of violence,” Vukovich wrote.
Vukovich’s sentencing is scheduled for Wednesday but will likely be rescheduled after his attorney requested more time to prepare, according to the newspaper. Regardless of when that sentence gets handed down, Vukovich said he wants to make one thing very clear: Don’t follow in his footsteps.
“There is no place for vigilante justice in an ordered society,” Vukovich said.
Vukovich, who said he was abused physically and sexually as a child, said he never got professional help and turned to a life of crime and stints in jail.
“I’m far from perfect — a flawed and imperfect individual like everyone else,” he said during an interview in the Anchorage jail last month. “However, it’s important to me that someone else who was born and raised in Alaska who had a similar upbringing doesn’t end up with this outcome because quite candidly, it sucks.”
Prosecutors have said Vukovich carried a notebook with a list of names during the June 2016 attacks, including Charles Albee, Andres Barbosa and Wesley Demarest. In the span of five days, Vukovich entered the homes of the men and attacked them. He knocked Demarest unconscious with a hammer and stole items from the victims as well, including a truck and a laptop, according to prosecutors.
Demarest said Vukovich referred to himself as an “avenging angel” during the assault. Vukovich later told police he targeted the men based on their listing in the state’s sex offender registry, which includes home and work addresses.
“I thought back to my experiences as a child and felt the overwhelming desire to act,” Vukovich wrote in November. “I took matters into my own hands and assaulted three pedophiles.”
Vukovich’s attorney, Ember Tilton, acknowledged that his client should be under some type of correctional supervision “for a very long time,” in addition to treatment programs for post-traumatic stress disorder and violent offenders.
“I don’t think he needs to be punished,” Tilton told the paper. “He’s already been punished. This whole thing started out as the punishment of a child who didn’t deserve to be treated in that way.”
Prosecutors last week declined to comment on Vukovich’s upcoming sentencing, according to the newspaper.
But Demarest left no mystery as to what he thinks should happen to Vukovich, saying he would prefer if his former attacker wasn’t “walking around while I’m alive.” Demarest, 68, said he suffered a traumatic brain injury during the attack and now has trouble forming sentences. He’s also lost his job.
“It just pretty well destroyed my life,” Demarest said. “So, he got what he wanted, I guess.”
Demarest told KTVA he thought he was going to die during the attack.
“He said, ‘I’m an avenging angel,’” Demarest recalled. “‘I’m going to mete out justice for the people you hurt.’”
Vukovich, for his part, now says he regrets injuring Demarest as seriously as he did.
“I began my life sentence many, many years ago, it was handed down to me by an ignorant, hateful, poor substitute for a father,” Vukovich wrote. “I now face losing most of the rest of my life due to a decision to lash out at people like him. To all those who have suffered like I have, love yourself and those around you, this is truly the only way forward.”
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